In the Wreckage

DISCLAIMER: "The Vision of Escaflowne" is not and never will be mine. Otherwise, Folken and Eries would have been together.

NOTE: Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is the final chapter to this short story. I enjoyed writing this little piece immensely because what was originally a one-shot just kept on growing. There is a lot of cheese and fluff in this chapter but considering the occasion, I think it is appropriate. I just love giving these two generous helpings of romance and happiness since they are both so serious all the time.

The story was supposed to end in the last chapter but this little thing came up out of the blue and was further inspired by repeatedly listening to "A Whole New World" and "Let Me Be Your Wings" (the latter seems just perfect for Folken and Eries).

I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Gaea and that you may continue loving Folken and Eries as much as I do!

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If there was anything Folken had learned from his years of studying Fate, it was that nothing ever happened by chance.

There are no accidents. Everything happens according to some mysterious plan; there was always a purpose even to seemingly random events. And it did not matter if one understood why things happened, they just did. Folken knew now that it was impossible to truly manipulate Fate, it operated independently, on its own incomprehensible terms.

And sometimes, if the odds were in one's favor, it was possible to suddenly find one's self in strange but wonderful circumstances.

Here was proof of these enigmatic forces.

After all, there were a great number of places where an airship could have malfunctioned and landed for the night. Princesses did not often wade into rivers in the middle of the night. And wanderers did not often stumble upon their heart's desire at the most unexpected moment.

And yet, there they were, walking hand in hand under the moonlight, making the most of the little time they had together. For the first time they were free to tell each other anything they wanted. No longer were they bound by the conventions of society or a strict sense of duty. It was ridiculous to even think about propriety when they had met in such unique conditions. So they told each other everything they had always wanted to tell each other – feelings, fears, dreams, hopes.

When he considered all the tragedies that had happened recently, Folken was grateful that he was given this chance for respite, no matter how brief. He was happier than he had been in years and at least for a while, he had forgotten about his black wings' dire prophecy.

They both refused to discuss sad matters. They had to face more than their share of tragedies every day. This was the first time in years that they had even considered their own personal happiness.

To avoid being reminded of darker things, they decided to walk in the woods instead of through the rubble of the kingdom. Folken still remembered all the paths he had explored as a boy and he was eager to show Eries his favorite places in the forest.

Even though she grew up mainly within the palace walls or in large cities, Eries was not averse to exploring wilder territory. In fact, she felt as exhilarated as a much younger girl. She did not often allow herself to be adventurous but this was one of those rare occasions.

She marveled at all the things Folken showed her, the sturdy trees with their leaves casting a pattern on the ground in the moonlight, the sparkling streams, the ancient statues erected by Folken's ancestors. Her eyes grew wide with wonder and her mouth formed an "O" of genuine awe. Seeing her thus, Folken only loved her more and felt honored to be able to fascinate her so.

As he watched her, Folken noticed that she seemed to fit right in Fanelia. She fell right into step with him even on the rockier paths. She had been comfortable wading into the river. And she looked upon the statues of his forefathers with the same reverence as he did.

"Everything is so beautiful," she said in wonderment as she admired another ancient structure, placing her hand on the sculpture gently.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered in awe, "and you belong here."

And suddenly, the memory of his failed dragon slaying ritual came back to Folken in a flash. He had tried his best not to dwell on that fateful day because of all the other painful memories that naturally came with it. The regret he felt about his failure usually was more for his separation from his family than his losing the chance to be king of Fanelia. He now knew that Van would be a far better king than he ever could.

But strangely, as he saw how much Eries seemed to blend into Fanelia, Folken regretted that he was not king because he believed that she would have been a perfect queen.

And though they had silently agreed not to dwell on what if's because they knew they would only be disappointed, Folken still found himself asking such a question.

"If things had been different, and I had not gone to Zaibach," he began timidly, "would you have liked it here?"

Eries smiled at him brightly.

"I would have loved it wherever I was, as long as I was with you," she answered earnestly.

Folken returned her smile.

"Thank you for saying that," he said, "but I would not have wanted you to spend life behind the cold metal walls of Zaibach."

"I am no stranger to walls, believe me," she replied, "but I am convinced that I could spend my whole life here in Fanelia and be perfectly happy."

"I'm glad to hear it," Folken said, "and I wish now that I was king of Fanelia if only to give you this kingdom as your own. I know that you would have made a wonderful queen."

"You flatter me," she scolded lightly.

"You know I don't have time for such things," he teased, "so everything I say tonight is the absolute truth."

Eries blushed at his praise and smiled.

"I only wish there was a way for me to show you more of my home," Folken said sadly.

Then, a brilliant idea occurred to him and he was seized with a desire of carrying it out. Eries noticed that there as a spark in his eyes and she wondered what he planned to do next.

He turned to her quickly and took both hands in his.

"My dearest Eries," he began, "would you allow me to…"

"Yes?" she asked expectantly.

Folken paused and thought for a moment of the right words to say. Finally, he decided on this. He opened his shirt and brought out his wings. Eries watched curiously.

"Do you trust me?" he asked simply, stretching his real hand out to her.

She looked at him with slight suspicion before smiling and taking the offered hand.

With one swift and smooth movement, he pulled her into his arms, lifted her up like a bride and soared into the sky.

She gasped in surprise and put her arms around his neck.

"Hold on tight," he said, "don't be afraid."

Eries smiled at him.

"I said I trusted you, remember?" she replied.

And off they soared into the starlit sky as Folken gave the princess a tour of Fanelia such as there never was before. He had wanted to cover as much ground as he could and so they did.

If Eries had marveled at the beauty of Fanelia from the ground, she was completely amazed by all that she saw from the sky. She smiled and admired everything, pointing to mountains and valleys in excitement. Seeing her in such a state of wonderment was one of the greatest joys of Folken's life.

"Beautiful!" she exclaimed repeatedly and Folken could not help but echo her enthusiasm though his was a different view.

"I wish I could give you all of this," he declared to her, "but for now at least, I want to show you my home so that even in this way, we may share it."

"It's more than enough to be here with you," Eries replied, "and this is undoubtedly one of the happiest nights of my life."

"Mine too," he said, holding her tighter.

So they spent the rest of the night on this wondrous flight, wishing that this happy dream would never end. Folken did not seem to tire during this journey. On the contrary, he had never felt so much energy in a long time. The weight of the past ten years seemed to have been lifted from his soldiers and all that remained was the strength and lightness of love.

They watched the sunrise from the top of one of the mountains overlooking Fanelia. Eries leaned her head on Folken's shoulder while she held his real hand in hers. They had stopped speaking because there was already too much to be felt.

She knew that she would have to return to her ship soon before the men realized she was missing. He still had to stay to have an important talk with Van. They knew that they would see each other again when he would seek asylum in Asturia but it would not be the same as this one wondrous night. Nevertheless, they were grateful that this was not to be their last meeting.

Eries made a silent resolve to return to Fanelia someday with Folken. For in the ruins of this ancient land, she had finally felt at home.

"My beloved queen," Folken whispered as he pulled Eries into a kiss. She smiled and put her arms around him, returning the kiss with equal ardor.

Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos around them, hope had been kindled in their hearts. With the dawn came the promise of the future.

As they held each other close, Eries and Folken had the incomprehensible feeling that Fate had so much more in store for them after this magical night.